Written by neosystems on July 02, 2010

So, first question. Tell us your name, age, and current location.
brimstone: Chris Mascioli, 23, New York

There were a recent slew of promotions, one of which was yours. What is your current job/position at magic-league?
brimstone: I am currently the (non-technical) ratings director. That means I handle appeals and all other (non-technical) issues that affect a player's rating.

How did you discover magic-league, and how long have you been a member and judge?
brimstone: Hmm, I discovered magic-league years ago when I was a staff member at the now defunct e-league. I was actually permanently banned by dirkjan back in the day. I re-joined in October 2008 or so and became a judge almost immediately (since my account was old enough (2049 days as of today)).

The average user probably knows you best as a judge. However, you are quite the player as well, winning a PTQ after many attempts. Can you describe your journey of grinding event after event before finally making it?
brimstone: Starting in June I decided to actually put work into the game to get better and finally qualify (I've been playing on and off since around Planeshift/Apocalypse) so I decided to buy into modo. Thanks to the help of |eric| and Razr8 I was able to finish up mythic online and began the grind. I was playing a solid 6-8 hours of magic a day for a while and, in order to improve my game, streamed each match in #teamss where we (PV, Haro, shooter, Razr8, |eric|, Zapgaze, truth, and others) discussed possible lines of play, mistakes that I made (by far the most helpful discussions), and sideboarding decisions. I was doing quite well online with mythic (4-0ed di DEs, T8ed a PE, got my modo rating above 1900) that I decided to take it to GP: DC where I went 6-2 and lost in round 9 to miss day 2. This was a huge disappointment and, as modo PTQ season was about to start, I decided to stick with mythic. I went T32, T16, 1-2 (with NLB, bad choice), and 1st in my 4 modo PTQs. is the list, for reference.

It sounds like you have a great network. Have you met them or any other magic-league players in person? If so, how was the experience?
brimstone: I've met PV at the airport when he was coming back from worlds (on thanksgiving, in JFK); truth and darkwaizard42 at GP: DC; Haro (who also lives in NYC) for drinks, the day before I made quite a long trip (over 9000 miles to be exact); HHH1 and several others at random Northeast PTQs.

What would you say are your three favorite things about magic-league?
brimstone: The people, sealed (RIP sealed generator), and it's a great starting point to become competitive. You can progress quite quickly up the ranks if you put some effort in and it's a great place to start learning about how metagames evolve.

If you were given complete control over magic-league, and could get one thing done to benefit it, what would you do?
brimstone: Sealed generator and onsite draft.

What does your typical day-to-day on magic-league consist of as a judge? Things you do on site, in the judge channel, etc. and how do you think it differs from what players may think being a judge is like?
brimstone: Well, once a week I handle all pending appeals of single matches and I occasionally run minis. I'm probably most known for my 24 hour marathon of like 80 or so minis and running masters, but I haven't had the time to do either of those recently. Overall, being a judge is probably similar to players think it would be.

As a veteran judge, what advice would you give to players wanting to take the judge test besides "read the comprehensive rules"?
brimstone: Play a lot, volunteer to judge an FNM, and read judge articles (such as Cranial Insertion on mtgsalvation)

So, something I always ask my interviewees. What is your favorite card/set/block and why?
Brimstone: Hmm. Card: Bitterblossom or Oracle of Mul Daya. I loved faeries and I just like the feel of Oracle of Mul Daya a lot. Set: No favorite. Block: Time Spiral. Loved the block constructed format for it, enjoyed drafting it, and actually liked the flavor (I usually could not care less about the flavor of a set).

What is your favorite thing about Magic? What initially attracted you to the game, and what keeps you interested?
brimstone: I was introduced to magic by my friend Greg Fenton in Prophecy or so. I was too busy with Pokemon cards so I didn't really start playing until IPA, as I alluded to earlier. I don't know what really attracted to me, I just found it really enjoyable. It's also just a great escape from the world. Random person that lives 9000 miles away getting you down? Just attack with fire breathing dragons into spell-casting wizards and all your problems just get incinerated in the cross fire. :P

What advice would you give to players who are currently trying to win a PTQ, as you have done?
Step 1: Play. A lot.
Step 2: Don't assume you got unlucky. Spend time thinking about each of your losses and find out what you did wrong. Such a large number of games that I would normally complain about getting unlucky during were really just losses to bad sequencing or loose keeps. Have someone do this with you if you can find people since having someone not actually involved in the situation help you in going over it is really helpful.
Step 3: Focus on each game, not the match and especially not the tournament as a whole. Gavin Verhey and Brad Nelson have recently written amazing articles on step 2 and step 3, respectively.

What do you see in your own future as a player, and what do you see in the future for magic-league?
brimstone: For myself, I hope to do well at the PT and between this year and next year hope to get enough pro points to train. For magic-league, the new site should bring back limited (sealed and draft) functionality and I hope that m-l, as a community, grows and continues to become increasingly competitive and a force in the metagame.

Any final thoughts for our readers?
brimstone: Make sure you pick what and who to make a priority carefully, and never make something a priority when you're just a losing option. And if you want something, go all in: At the end of the day, if you fail you can be happy that you tried your best and didn't just let an opportunity pass you by and, if you succeed, you know you deserve it.
"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him." -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Thanks a lot for your time!

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